Chess Puzzle of the Week (263): Solution

I’ve just published a review of Speed Demon, the life and games of Alexey Vyzhmanavin.

Monday’s puzzle was taken from one of his games.

Vyzhmanavin won by sacrificing two pieces: 16. Bxg6!! hxg6 17. Ne6!!, yielding a winning attack.

Congratulations to Maxim (on WhatsApp) and Andy from West London on X/Twitter, who both came up with the correct answer very quickly.

Here’s the complete game: click on any move for a pop-up window.

2023-24 Results Bulletin (9)

A short report this week as we only had one match, but it turned out to be a good one.

Our Thames Valley B team entertained Hounslow B, not one of the stronger teams in the division, and, outrating our opponents by about 200 points a board, the result was never in doubt.

Most of the games were hard fought. Raghu was first to score, using the Dutch Defence to record a crushing win. Maxim and Pablo were both a good pawn up, and, although Sampson also had an extra pawn, his opponent had more than enough compensation in the ending. Meanwhile, Alastair was building up a strong kingside attack, while Simon’s game always looked level. Sampson was more than happy to agree a draw, while Pablo and Alastair both broke through decisively, and Simon duly shared the point. Maxim had looked like he was going to win quickly as his major pieces were surrounding the white king, but his opponent defended tenaciously, surviving to the end of the session.

Thanks to Hounslow B for an enjoyable match. We look forward to taking on their A team on Monday.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (263)

Here’s a quick question for Monday morning.

White to play. How would you continue. As usual, I require more than just the first move.

Have fun!

2023-24 Results Bulletin (8)

Some excellent results to report this week.

Firstly, and most importantly, our London League team under Gavin’s inspirational captaincy, reached 4/4 for the season, fielding a strong team against Mushrooms 1 and scoring a comfortable victory.

In Surrey, our Ellery Williams team (4 boards Rapidplay Board 1 not above 1900, others not above 1750) opened their season with an excellent win at Ashtead, debutant Tom scoring a crucial point. Our only opponents in this league are Ashtead and Wimbledon, so we’re guaranteed of, at worst, bronze medals.

Our third Tuesday match saw our E team ata the Twickenham Club facing much stronger opponents from Maidenhead. The heavy defeat was only to be expected, but Division X is a ‘fun’ division where the play is more important than the result.

There was more Thames Valley action on Wednesday, when, in yet another Richmond v Surbiton match, our C team visited Surbiton C. The two teams had shared the points at Richmond a few weeks ago, and again they looked evenly matched, but this time our players were at their best, Jack and Peter scoring crushing wins, Viorel and David winning in the ending, along with two solid draws. What a fantastic result!

As always, congratulations to the undoubtedly skilful winners, thanks to everyone for playing, and, especially, thanks to our tireless match captains.

If you’d like to play in our teams – or you’d like more opportunities for match play, contact Sampson or the match captains of the teams you’d like to play for (details on the Fixtures page).

Chess Puzzle of the Week (262): Solution

Here’s the first published problem by RJCC alumnus and English chess STAR Luke McShane. Will his composing career, like his problem career, take FLIGHT?

There was a clue in the rubric: notice the cunningly placed words STAR and FLIGHT. It’s not the first time I’ve invited you to solve a problem featuring the STAR FLIGHT theme. In this theme the black king has four flight squares forming a rather pretty star (NE, SE, SW and NW), each of which will be met by a different mate.

The key, which I hope you found, is 1. Qb7!, when I’m sure you can work out yourself the four mates resulting from Black’s four possible moves.

Well done to Alastair and everyone else who solved it.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (262)

It’s always exciting when a new issue of The Problemist arrives, and I was especially thrilled last week to see a first published problem by RJCC alumnus and English chess star Luke McShane. Will his composing career, like his problem career, take flight?

It’s a mate in 2 offering a fairly gentle introduction for those of you relatively new to chess problems. It’s so easy that I managed to solve it pretty quickly, so I’m sure you can too.

2023-24 Results Bulletin (7)

A tough week this week, starting with a Surrey match where we were 3-0 ahead and really should have won, but all credit to Wimbledon for winning the three remaining games.

Then came three Thames Valley League matches against strong opposition in which we failed to win a single game. Given the circumstances, though, we were far from disgraced and managed some creditable draws against higher rated opponents. The standards in all divisions are a lot higher than last season, with players returning after Covid and the modernised league rules attracting more strong players.

There were outstanding draws for Alex, Barry and Dan playing for Richmond D against Ealing B.

Hammersmith A were pretty close to full strength against our TVA team and took the professional route, winning with white and drawing with black. Again, some great individual results.

Maks reports:

A slightly disappointing result. We lost every board where we were playing black and drew each board where we were playing white. Hammersmith certainly put out a strong team and it showed on this night. 

Perhaps Hammersmith’s captain made a special effort to get together a strong team, to get some sort of revenge after we clinched 2nd place from them last season in a final match. However, this is just speculation and I am trying to add a bit of interest to this match report as there were no spectacular results from our team this time. 

Losses on our even boards 2, 4, and 6 featured the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Alekhine Defence, and Scotch Opening respectively.

Our draws featured the Trompowsky Opening played by Gavin, I am not sure what happened in John’s game and an irregular double fianchetto defence against d4 in Maks’s game.

With a few unavailabilities for our team as well as our B-team playing on the same night it would seem we gave it our best shot. Once again thanks to everyone who played and at least there were some fairly interesting games.

Commendations to Gavin, John, and Maks for 3 respectable draws against higher-rated opponents.

Having the A and B teams playing on the same day was unfortunate, but sometimes these things can’t be helped. Otherwise, our B team would have been two boards stronger, but it did give others the opportunity for a game.

Again our top boards excelled themselves against formidable opposition, with Jon apparently being close to a win, but our lower boards were unable to exploit their rating advantage.

Let’s hope for better luck – and a few wins – in next week’s matches.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (261): Solution

Monday’s puzzle elicited some lively discussion on WhatsApp and elsewhere.

It was taken from the final of the Metropolitan section of the 1938 Kent Individual Championship, with Reginald Charles Noel-Johnson playing White against Francis George Tims Collins.

More experienced players would have identified the position as ripe for a double bishop sacrifice: a standard tactical idea with which everyone should be familiar. But before you go around giving up your pieces you have to calculate whether or not it works.

In this case, you’ll be gratified to hear, it does.

It goes like this.

20. Bxh7+! Kxh7
21. Qh5+ Kg8
22. Bxg7!

Now if 22… Kxg7 23. Qg5+ Kh8 24. Rd3/4, Black can give up his queen by playing f6, although White should still be winning. White does better here to throw in 24. Qf6+ Kg8 before playing 25. Rd4 (but not 25. Rd3? Bxh2+ 26. Kh1 Qf4). Here White is winning too much material, so Black chose to decline the second bishop.

22… f6

White found the strongest continuation.

23. Qh8+ Kf7
24. dxe6+ Kxe6
25. Re1+ Kf7
26. Bxf8 Rxf8

Or 26… Kxf8 27. Rd4

27. Rxd6! Qxd6
28. Qh7+ Ke8
29. Re1+

Black resigned: he’ll be two pawns down with his king still exposed.

Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion and well done everyone who worked out most of the analysis.

If you haven’t seen a double bishop sacrifice before you’ve learnt an important idea. If you have, you were presented with what I hope was an interesting analytical exercise.

You can find out more about the winner here. Part 2 will be following some time next week.

Here’s the complete game: click on any move for a pop-up window.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (261)

Like last week, this is a puzzle demonstrating an idea which will be second nature to experts, but perhaps new to less experienced players.

White to play: how would you continue.

It’s not enough just to see the idea here: I want full analysis to demonstrate that it works.

Have fun!

The Chess Heroes Project: Clubs

The second strand of the Chess Heroes project involves promoting community-based social chess clubs for children and young people.

In this area at the moment there are excellent professionally run centres of excellence for ambitious young children such as Richmond Junior Club, but these aren’t for everyone. Not everyone can afford them. Not all children will benefit from this approach. Not all children require formal group instruction, rated games and competitions.

When Mike Fox and I started Richmond Juniors back in 1975 it was specifically promoted as a social club where children could come along to meet their friends and make new friends. Many of our early members are still active. Bertie Barlow, Sampson Low and Simon Illsley all played in our last TVB match: Gavin Wall and Caspar Bates played in our last LL match, while Mark Josse recently played for Surbiton against our TVA team.

Parents now sign their children up for chess because they believe their children will gain extrinsic benefits, not because they see it as a long-term hobby.

Perhaps the tide is slowly turning and there is once again a demand for the sort of junior club that RJCC originally set out to be.

Marie Gallagher (a former RTCC member) and I started a club on these lines in Twickenham Library in September which is going really well. I’m also talking to a fairly local community centre about starting a club there, and we might also think about running a junior session at the Adelaide from, say, 5:30 to 7:00, for children who are either too young or not experienced enough for RTCC..

We need volunteer coaches who:

  • are passionate about chess
  • enjoy working with children
  • have DBS clearance
  • have spare time to work for free.

If you’re interested please get in touch!

Richard James